Mexico: Flavors Old and New

October 20-28, 2017 (8 days, 7 nights)

To Christopher Columbus, the New World was a storehouse of culinary gold.  From the Americas came the pepper, the potato and tomato, corn, squash, beans, chocolate, pineapple and more.  Each of these ingredients was exported around the world and changed culinary history.

All of these ingredients are at home in Mexico, and today’s contemporary cuisine goes far beyond the realm of tacos and burritos.  It is a fusion of meso-American and European ingredients and techniques.

On our journey to Mexico you’ll learn to prepare your own Mexican cuisine from masters and enjoy the new-old cuisine prepared by prominent chefs that feature the best of ingredients.  You also explore the lively street food markets that feature everyday food enjoyed by the masses and we’ll tour a vineyard and a tequila hacienda. Complementing the gastronomic activities you’ll get to know the thriving and exciting Mexico City and a guided tour of the Frida Kahlo museum.

Delicious Highlights will include

  • Enjoy a welcome dinner at Restaurant Quintonil
  • Discover Mexico City’s vibrant street food scene
  • Dine on pre-Hispanic dishes and Oaxaca Mezcel at Limosneros
  • Join a top chef for a street food tour to gather ingredients for use in a cooking class
  • Ride a gondola-like trajinera through a network of canals, enjoying food stops along the way
  • Embark on a market tour in San Miguel de Allende with Chef Paco Cadernas and participate in a cooking class
  • Sit down to a meal at Nextia, which specializes in dishes using organic local ingredients
  • Visit an award-winning vineyard Cuna de Tierra for a private tour, wine-tasting and four-course dinner
  • Sample tequila during a private tour of the Casa Dragones distillery.

Sightseeing highlights:

  • Explore Mexico’s historic heart and see the highlights on a private walking tour
  • Visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes, housing frescoes by Orozco, Rivera and Montenegro
  • Wander around the Frida Kahlo Museum to see moments of the artist’s life
  • Tour the canals of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Enjoy a walking tour of San Miguel de Allende

Included in your tour is:

  • 8-day tour by luxury motor coach with an expert driver/guide
  • Breakfast daily
  • 3 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Three nights at Hotel Las Alcobas, Mexico City
  • Four nights at Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende
  • All sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary

Day 1
You will be met at the airport in Mexico City and transferred to the hotel.  The afternoon is at leisure to settle in and relax.  Rejoin your guide and fellow travelers for an eight-course dinner at a restaurant specializing in modern Mexican cuisine, Quintonilthe creation of Chef Jorge Vallejo, widely celebrated for his work and his solid career path.  In addition to highly contemporary Mexican cuisine, Quintonil strives to use ingredients from small scale producers to take everyday, home-style flavors to a higher level. Your tour guides will go over the details of your Mexico tour itinerary and the activities planned for the week.

Hotel Las Alcobas, Mexico City

Day 2:
Begin the day with a three-and-a-half hour tour of one of the world’s most vibrant street food scenes.   Learn about the history of different foods and discover how the street food system is organized in a typical neighborhood.  After the tour, we stay in the city center and start with exploring the historic center, ending at the Palacio Bellas Artes.   In the evening, we will enjoy dinner at Limosneros that offers an excellent tasting menu of pre-Hispanic dishes paired with Oaxaca mescal.

Hotel Las Alcobas, Mexico City

Day 3:
Today you are accompanied by one of Mexico’s top chefs for a street food tour in a different neighborhood.  Wander through Mexico City’s market collecting inspiration and ingredients to use for a traditional dish prepared in your late morning cooking class.  After the lesson and lunch, we will head to the Frida Kahlo Museum, Casa Azul, in a suburb south of the city.  Hidden behind high cobalt blue walls, it is where the surrealist artist was born, grew up and later lived with her muralist husband, Diego Riviera.  In addition to fascinating collections and personal effects of the artists, the museum also presents a window to the affluent Mexican bohemians in the first half of the 20th century.

From there, continue to the main square of Coyoacan for time to explore on your own.  Then we’ll visit Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its canals that once connected settlements of the Valley of Mexico. We will ride colorful gondola-like boats known as trainers with a guide through the network of canals, stopping a different food boats with a variety of authentic Mexican foods such as chicken mole, tlatiques and amaranto.

Hotel Las Alcobas, Mexico City

Day 4:
En route to San Miguel de Allende, we will stop at a famous and authentic car stop called Parador Santiago, where you can try delicious barbacoa, tamales and quesadillas.  As we arrive in San Miguel, we will enjoy a guided walking tour of the historic city center.  See the San Miguel Arcangel Parish Church, historic houses and the Allende Museum.  After you know where things are downtown, we will check into the hotel and you will have the evening at leisure to explore on your own.

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende

Day 5:
Join Paco Cadernas, well-known chef and owner of El Petit Four, for a tour of the city’s colorful market.  Learn about the local fresh produce, herbs, seeds and more. Then participate in a hands-on cooking class at Paco’s indoor-outdoor kitchen and garden.  After class, feast on your culinary creations and wine.  The afternoon is at leisure, but this evening, sit down to dinner at Chef Bricio Dominguez’s Nextia, which specializes in organic, local products from Guanajuato.

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende

Day 6:
After breakfast, we will leave for a day trip to Guanajuato.  It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site a charming colonial city situated in a picturesque valley surrounded by the Sierra de Guanajuato.  This region is known as Bajio, or the “Heart of Mexico”.

We will have time to explore the underground streets, cobblestone alleyways and picturesque squares.  We will visit a food market and sample food at the stands to experience the flavors of Guanajuato.

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende

Day 7:
This morning we will enjoy a private visit to Casa Dragones, a tequila distillery.  We start with a tour of the stables of the cavalry Battalion Dragons, formerly the 17th-century stables and now a private residence.  Then learn about the innovative processes and techniques used to produce the smooth and distinctive tequila.  Sample two of the tequilas and enjoy some hors d’oeuvres.

Afterwards we continue to a hacienda for a cooking class and lunch.  Starting with a greeting and brief tour by the owners,

This afternoon we’ll visit Cuna de Tierra, a vineyard just outside the city.  After a guided tour of the vineyard, the sommelier will tell us about the process of winemaking in Mexico and takes you to a private tasting room for a four-course dinner featuring regional products with wine pairings.  Cuna de Tierra has won gold, silver and bronze on the European contest circuit, and this is a wonderful way to end our trip to Mexico with our new friends.

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende

Day 8:
Transfer to Leon Airport for your homeward flight.

FRIDA KAHLO’S ZUCCHINI SALAD

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

8 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp sugar
6 small zucchini, sliced
2 ripe avocados, sliced
3 oz crumbled queso anejo or parmesan
2 tsp roughly chopped cillantro

INSTRUCTIONS

Shake 6 tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a glass jar until emulsified; set aside. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high; cook zucchini until golden, 10–12 minutes. Let cool slightly and overlap on a serving platter with avocados. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the vinaigrette; garnish with queso añejo or parmesan and cilantro.

– Saveur Magazine, October 14, 2014

“Mexican food is far more varied than people think. It changes like dialects.

– Gael Garcia Bernal

         Starting from $3,990 per person (land only) for group of 12.  Airfare starts at approx $500 roundtrip.                                    

 

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